CLEVELAND — Cavaliers rookie point guard Collin Sexton still has work to do when it comes to running an NBA offense, but the 20-year-old has made significant progress in recent games.
Sexton, chosen out of Alabama with the No. 8 pick in the NBA Draft, entered a game against the Detroit Pistons on Monday at Quicken Loans Arena averaging 15.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and a still-low 2.9 assists per game. He was shooting .417 from the field, a very solid .402 on 3-pointers and .835 at the line.
Over his last 17 games prior to Monday, those numbers were even better. Sexton averaged 20.7 points, 2.9 boards and 3.3 assists while shooting .427 from behind the arc, helping him raise his season scoring average by 1.6 points.
“I feel like I am (ending the season strong) pretty much on both ends,” he said. “I’m just trying to go out there and let the game come to me and play relaxed on both ends. That’s it.”
Sexton entered Monday having scored at least 23 points in five straight games. The only other Cleveland rookies to do so were Austin Carr (6 from Feb. 20 to March 4, 1972) and Ron Harper (5 from March 3-12, 1987).
Sexton’s streak of five straight 20-point games tied Dallas’ Luka Doncic and Atlanta’s Trae Young (twice) for the longest by a rookie this season. He entered Monday with 19 games of at least 20 points, which tied for the most among the current rookie class.
Kevin Love, who sat out against the Pistons due to a sore lower back, is averaging 19.9 points and 11.5 rebounds in just 28.3 minutes in 10 games since the All-Star break.
The power forward has seven double-doubles in that span, during which he’s shot .427 on 3-pointers (32-for-75) and .937 at the line (59-for-63).
Love, who missed 50 straight games due to a foot injury, suffered his latest mishap when he took a hard fall Saturday against Dallas.
“I knew the following day he would probably feel the effects of that fall,” Cavs coach Larry Drew said. “Right now, he’s pretty sore.”
Pistons center Andre Drummond is no longer the bricklayer he once was from the free throw line, but Drew said there still could be situations in a game where he instructed his players to foul him intentionally.
Drummond shot better than .400 at the line just once in his first five seasons but last season upped that figure to .605. He entered Monday shooting .586 this season and .444 for his seven-year career.
- Cavs forward Cedi Osman was averaging 16.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists in his last four games prior to Monday. He tied a career high with six 3-pointers — in seven attempts — Saturday vs. Dallas.
- Cleveland center Ante Zizic entered the Pistons game averaging 12.8 points (.575 FG%, .833 FT%) over his last four games. He had scored in double figures 18 times this season prior to Monday.
- Pistons power forward Blake Griffin (rest) did not play against the Cavs. In addition to Love, Cleveland was without Tristan Thompson (foot), Larry Nance Jr. (rib), Matthew Dellavedova (concussion) and John Henson (wrist).